Taiwan’s defense capabilities are set to receive a significant boost as the Pentagon awards a manufacturing contract to supply AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) glide bombs for the island’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
The contract, officially granted to Raytheon Missile Systems, a subsidiary of RTX Corp., marks a pivotal step in Taiwan’s quest for advanced ground-attack capabilities. With 139 F-16 fighters already in operation and 66 more pending delivery, Taiwan is poised to become the largest operator of the F-16 airframe in Asia.
These munitions, part of a $68.42 million contract, are vital for Taiwan’s defense strategy amid escalating tensions with neighboring China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory. The JSOW’s range of 13-80 miles and “fire-and-forget” precision capability significantly enhance Taiwan’s ability to conduct standoff strikes from extended ranges, keeping engagements beyond the reach of enemy defenses.
Scheduled for delivery by 2028, these weapons represent one of many purchases from the U.S. underlining Washington’s commitment to supporting Taiwan’s defensive capabilities. This commitment is rooted in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, obliging the U.S. to assist Taiwan in arming itself against potential military threats.
Taiwan’s acquisition of the JSOW underscores a broader trend of strengthening defense ties between Taipei and Washington. This move, initiated during the administration of former President Donald Trump, continues to receive bipartisan support in the United States, reflecting concerns over the power imbalance across the Taiwan Strait.
Despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, the U.S. remains steadfast in its support for Taiwan’s defense, emphasizing the importance of maintaining stability and deterring Chinese military aggression in the region.
The pending integration of AGM-154 bombs into Taiwan’s F-16 fleet signals a significant stride in bolstering the island’s defense capabilities, underscoring the enduring partnership between Taipei and Washington in safeguarding regional security.